Hecarim, The Shadow of War, is the newest addition to the already gargantuan League of Legends roster, and is one that I welcome whole-heartedly, that is, until he is routinely nerfed into the ground like most new champions. Until then, however, I will continue to decapitate hundreds of poor minions and trample them with my hooves of death. How, you ask? Let me explain.
Hecarim’s four main abilities (and passive) in brief are as follows:
Q: Rampage cleaves at enemies nearby with Hecarim’s scythe, dealing physical damage.
W: Spirit of Dread is Hecarim’s AoE, dealing magic damage to enemies in a small radius around Hecarim. Enemies that take damage in the aura heal Hecarim for a percentage of damage dealt.
E: Devastating Charge gives Hecarim 75% extra movement speed over 3 seconds, ending a second after. The attack knocks the target back and deals damaged based on distance travelled.
R: Onslaught of Shadows summons ‘Spectral Riders’, charging forward and dealing magic damage to enemies hit. When Hecarim finishes charging, a shockwave is released, causing nearby enemies to flee for 1 second.
Passive - Warpath: Hecarim ignores unit collision and gains attack damaged based on bonus movement speed.
At the beginning of any game, Hecarim is going to be very squishy due to his low armour, and due to this, I recommend picking up an armour item early-to-mid-game. Because of Hecarim’s Spirit of Dread ability, I find it complimentary to build a Sunfire Cape, in order to amass a decent amount of AoE damage, which will come in very handy late-game during team fights.
It is very easy for enemy champions to get lost in the midst of battle and pay far too little attention to the AoE damage you’re outputting, often catching them off guard and resulting in a mad scramble on their part, and often a kill for you. Not only that, the heal you get from Spirit of Dread is enough to keep you alive in tricky situations.
This is especially useful when cocky champions attempt to tower dive you as you’re defending a tower at low health. It is not something that should be heavily relied upon, as the heal from Spirit of Dread in this situation is relatively small; however, in a tight situation, going up against a stubborn champion, it can mean the difference between life and death.
When it comes to playing offensively with Hecarim, you’ll need to play to your strengths, and rely on the weakness of the enemy. It sounds like an arbitrary thing to say, and as much as I hate to admit it, pairing off in a one-on-one with a champion (especially a ‘fighter’, or anyone with a decent amount of sustain), you’re going to have a hard time dealing adequate damage and staying alive.
You’re going to want to make full use of your movement speed bonus. Your general plan of attack when attempting to gank enemy champions should be to try and catch them completely off guard, deal as much burst damage as possible using every one of your abilities, and then chase them down while spamming your Rampage ability. Being a ganking champion, naturally, you’re going to want to steer away from battle where you’re outnumbered.
That having been said, you should not shy away from the opportunity to finish off a retreating champion, even if they are guarded by a healthy ally. Your abilities (specifically Onslaught of Shadows and Devastating Charge) paired with your passive AD bonus, allows Hecarim to rush in, secure a quick kill, and escape before suffering enough damage to die himself. I take Ghost as a Summoner Spell to ensure this tactic works. Flash would also work in this situation.
Sadly, Hecarim’s base movement speed is quite slow, so I would recommend purchasing some form of movement speed enhancing item over the course of the game (as well as boots, obviously).
It is also essential to build towards Nashor’s Tooth, as the mana regeneration and cooldown reduction are invaluable to keep up constant harassment. The bonus attack speed also goes a long way in helping to widdle down the health of champions you catch off guard, and the extra ability power will beef up your Spirit of Dread and Onslaught of Shadows.
Depending on the situation (gold earned, turrets down, items on the enemy/yourself) team fights should be approached either aggressively or passively. In the situation that you’re ahead, refer back to the strategy discussed above regarding quickly rushing in and killing the opponent. It’s best to approach a team fight, if at all possible, from out of sight, only revealing yourself at the last minute, leading in with either Devastating Charge or Onslaught of Shadows (at your discretion).
A more passive technique I discovered—and this requires tailoring your item choice to achieve maximum AoE damage—is to simply skirt the outer rim of a team fight, taking care not to let yourself get targeted down whilst continuously popping Spirit of Dread. This is where the Sunfire Cape becomes particularly useful. This technique relies a lot on your opponent being kept off guard, so you’ll need to be moving constantly or you’re going to put your team in a bad position, and most likely cop a ‘noob!’ from your teammates.
I’m still yet to find a favourite build for Hecarim, since there are a number of ways to build him and still achieve domination. That being said, it’s quite easy to get carried away when buying items and either consider yourself all-powerful (forgetting your squishiness), or simply getting lost in trying to cater to your each and every ability. This is what makes Hecarim a fun character to play right now, in my opinion, and keeps each game relatively fresh.
Heed my words, Summoners, and happy experimentation!